In The Strange Death of Europe, Douglas Murray paints a bleak picture of a suicidal Europe that has lost confidence in its own heritage while opening its borders to large immigrant populations it has proven incapable of integrating. Sohrab Amari, calling the book “fiery, lucid, and essential,” writes in his review:
Murray argues that the successive failures [of integration] owe to a basic lack of political will. . . . Pusillanimity and retreat have been the norm among governments and cultural elites on everything from female genital mutilation to free speech to counterterrorism. . . .
Is it possible to imagine an alternative history, one in which Europe would absorb so many migrants from Islamic lands but suffer fewer and less calamitous harms? Murray’s surprising answer is yes. Had Europe retained its existential confidence over the course of the previous two centuries, things might have turned out differently. As it was, however, mass migration saw a “strong religious culture”—Islam—“placed into a weak and relativistic culture.”
In the book’s best chapters, Murray departs from the policy debate to attend to the sources of Europe’s existential insecurity. Germans bear much of the blame, beginning with 19th-century Bible scholarship that applied the methods of history, philology, and literary criticism to sacred scripture. That pulled the rug of theological certainty from under Europe’s feet, in Murray’s account, and then Darwin’s discoveries heightened the disorientation. Europeans next tried to substitute totalistic ideology for religion, with catastrophic results.
Finally, after World War II, they settled on human rights as the central meaning of Europe. But since Europeans could no longer believe, these rights were cut off from one of their main wellsprings: the Judeo-Christian tradition. . . . Europeans forgot how they came to be free.